How To Help Kids In Foster Care

Since we’ve started our journey, I know a lot of people have expressed interest in either Fostering or straight Adoption. And while they all mean well, what I really want to say is – you can help! You might not be ready to take the full dive, but there are plenty of ways to help.

 

Volunteer 

There are actually a ton of ways you can volunteer that could help. You could become a Court Appointed Special Advocate, or most organizations that help find foster families have volunteer opportunities.  The state can also help connect you with a way to volunteer.

Donate

There a few things you could do if you have a group of people who want to help. Donate to or volunteer with a Rainbow Room.

A Rainbow Room is an emergency resource center available to CPS caseworkers to help them meet the critical needs of abused and neglected children.  It consists of a store-like setting that allows Child Protective Services workers to go “shopping” for the children and families on their caseloads.

They accept only new items, so this might be a good option if you want to do a group effort – host a drive for formula, diapers, school supplies or toys. Find your local Rainbow Room contact info here. A church near you might also have something called a “Moses Closet” which is similar in vein but geared toward Foster Parents.

You could also work on a project from Together We Rise like personalizing duffel bags or creating birthday care packages or pull together a school supply drive. You can also donate duffel bags or suitcases.

Advocate Politically 

Politics might seem like an unlikely item on the list, but realistically a lot of the time political policies affect every day life for people. This really directly impact children in foster care and families who are involved because technically they are wards of the state. The Texas Legislature only meets for 6 months every 2 years and here’s a list of all the bills that would have some affect on foster care or CPS.

So, if you want to help without leaving your house, look into what bills are being looked at. Advocate for positive change. And contact your state Senator or Representative and let them know that it’s so important these kids have the resources they need – then ask how they are helping.

Respite Care

There are qualifications to being able to watch a child in Foster Care, particularly overnight. So, if the parents want (or need!) to go out of town for a weekend without the kids, someone needs to watch them. You can go through the steps and be able to provide a much needed care when you are able.

Become A Foster Parent

I know, I tricked you because this list was supposed to be about all the other ways, but really – do it. At least go to an orientation. If you think you could do it “one day” or have “thought about” take it to the next step. There are likely a lot of misconceptions that you heard, and there are probably things that you didn’t realize were resources to help.

Other resources:

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Home Study: Part 2

We completed our second Home Study Saturday! It was the same case worker who did the first one. This time, she talked to us both as a couple and we went over things like

  • How we met and when we started dating
  • What we like about each other and what our strengths as a family are
  • Parenting – discipline methods, what our hopes for Oliver are, how we would manage two kids
  • How we planned to apply some of the things we learned in our classes – trauma informed care, preventing sexual assault, etc
  • Family Rules (we don’t have a lot of hard rules, but we did talk about teaching him to listen and not hit)
  • Religion
    • Even though we aren’t religious, they do ask if we are open to including religion in the child’s life if it’s important for them. This really is more for older children, but we did talk about it.
  • How we feel about ourselves as parents

We also went over what we’re open to in terms of a child but also as a licensed foster home. So this included what age, race, and abilities/disabilities we would be open to. Since we’re open to any race, we also talked about how we would make sure a child of another race might feel in our family. I’m glad they ask these questions, it is important to think about. The full list of what topics are included in a Home Study in Texas is on the DFPS website here.

We also have the crib and some other things set up in the nursery, so we were able to show that. It might not look like the most Pinterest- worthy nursery just yet, but it has a crib and a rocking chair and even some decorations on the walls.

From here, our Home Study will get typed up and reviewed by a committee. This could take 2-3 weeks, but once the committee approves us we should be licensed in a couple of days. Shortly after that, we will meet with the placement specialist at Depelchin to go over what would be a good match.

 

ALEX (4)

Home Study Recap: Part 1

We had our first Home Study this past Saturday. We will go through at least 2 Home Studies, and should only need another one if we need to clarify anything from those. Our second one is actually set for this coming Saturday, so we don’t have to wait for too long. This one was already almost a month after we were actually approved to go to Home Study.

This time around we each talked to the Case Worker separately, and then took her on a “tour” of the house and backyard. While Gabe and I each ended talking about more or less topics here’s what was covered:

  • Our entire life story. Basically, you start at childhood and talk about how you got to today.
  • Any childhood traumas. For me, this included a lot of questions about my parents divorce, what that was like, and how it was handled.
  • The names/location/occupation/personalities of each member of your immediate family.
  • Where we went to High School, College, etc.
  • All of the jobs we’ve held and how we feel about our current job.
  • Our physical/mental/emotional health (this actually was literally just the question “how is your emotional health?” so was easier than it sounds).
  • How our families handled talking about sex and how that impacts our parenting.
  • How close we are to our immediate family (how often do we see/talk to them).

While it was really in-depth, our Case Worker was very nice and so this felt a lot more like a conversation than an interrogation which was good. I’ve been really worried about this – since I’m estranged from my mother, I was worried this would be a red flag that I would struggle to explain but it turned out okay.

I actually found a guidelines for what the Home Study covers here. We went over some of it the night before, and it was helpful to have some idea of what to expect.

Next weeks Home Study will include interviewing us both together, and going over our budget. We also will take another look at the new baby’s room since we didn’t totally have the bed set up last time.

After that, our Home Study notes will all get typed up (this could take up to two weeks, it is our entire life story after all) and then sent to committee. The committee meets every Tuesday, and will either clear us for placement or come back with any questions.

Since we’re moving in to the final stretch (of the process to be placed, anyway) here’s a picture of Oliver and his Big Brother shirt.

Oliver Announcement

Phase I – Check!

Well we’ve officially completed “Phase I” and are cleared for Phase II – the Home Study.

Our last class was Policies and Procedures, which I thought would be pretty light, but was pretty intense. We were immediately handed a binder that was several inches thick, full of the rules and regulations. It’s really got everything from what to do if you leave town, medication, trampoline rules..seriously, everything.

We also went over the visits from our case workers (there’s a different name for that, but it’s totally slipping my mind right now), as well as parental visits and drop-ins from CPS. That seemed a little overwhelming, but I’m sure it sounds like a lot more than it actually is.

I also went to get my TB test – a really sort of odd requirement in this process. I went to get it at Walgreens, which seems simple enough. But the way the test works is that they inject something in your skin and you actually have to return in 48-72 hours for them to read it. So, that means two trips.

So, now we are just waiting for someone to follow up with us on scheduling the home study!

Online Training & Homework

Tonight we have our CPR class, and Thursday is our last in person class! But today, I thought I would write more about the online training and homework we needed to do.

Online Training:

There are three online “courses” that we each had to complete. There isn’t a hard deadline on these other than before everything is finalized, but I wanted to get them done before we started our in-person classes, so that’s the deadline I gave myself. Honestly, they aren’t that time consuming or difficult. Basically you read through a variety of slides on each topic and then take a multiple choice test. You can print everything out so you have a guide while you take the test. They’re also available on the DFPS website so if you want to get a sense of what they’re like, you can:

Those titles pretty much sum up what each training is about. It’s pretty straightforward, no frills and you go at your own pace. Honestly, they seem much more intense than they actually are.

Homework:

Our first day of classes we were handed a pretty large packet of “Homework”. It isn’t really traditional style homework where it’s based of questions in the class, it’s more of a reflection on your family, parenting and discipline styles and what your family has to offer. In a way there are almost no “wrong” answers (except questions about spanking, that answer is always no). You have until the end of class to turn it in.

Online training for Foster Parents